This article first appeared in NBA Gauntlet on 8/15/08.
The Cleveland Cavaliers made a bold push to improve the team and retain LeBron James in the future. In a three team deal with Oklahoma City and Milwaukee, the Cavs brought in Mo Williams and sent out Damon Jones and Joe Smith.
But is Mo Williams, who turns 26 this season, an actual upgrade or a misguided attempt to make LeBron happy?
Though he is not an excellent facilitator or defender, Mo Williams has become an efficient scorer, and has improved each year. He also has been good on the boards.
Mo Williams, a scoring point guard, adds about 2.5 wins above average to a team in 2400 minutes, while Damon Jones is about 2.5 wins below average in just 1300 minutes.
The remaining 1100 minutes that Mo Williams will take can come from any other less talented player, such as Devin Brown, who would be about two wins below average in that amount of time.
The loss of Joe Smith, an above average power forward, would create minutes for rookie J.J. Hickson, who should figure to be have a fairly successful rookie season, about one win below average.
Add everything together and you see that the team should win about six more games. The young players like Daniel Gibson should improve a bit and Sasha Pavlovic should recover from a dreadful season.
However, the team must hope that Ben Wallace, Wally Szczerbiak, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas don’t age five years overnight. LeBron James will also need to find a way to stay fresh after a long off-season playing for team U.S.A.
2008-2009 Cavaliers Prediction: 51 Wins.